As April ends, RepresentWomen highlights current events and new findings concerning women's political representation and gender equality.
One Century Later: Senate Votes on the Equal Rights Amendment
On Tuesday, Senator Schumer announced that the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) would be returned to the floor after 100 years.
To be added to the Constitution, the ERA must receive a two-thirds vote in Congress and then three-fourths of states — 38 — must ratify it on their own. When Congress sent the ERA to the states in 1972 for ratification, it placed a seven-year deadline on the ratification process. That deadline was extended to 1982, but only 35 states ratified it by that time.
“The ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment would finally provide a constitutional remedy against sex discrimination — pushing our country one step closer to finally achieving equal justice under the law,” Schumer said on Monday. “It has been exactly 100 years since the first ERA was proposed in Congress. American women cannot afford to wait 100 more.”
Gender Inequality Exacerbated by the Pandemic
Like many other social problems, the pandemic exacerbated gender inequality. When the world transitioned to working from home, women shouldered most domestic responsibilities during the pandemic. Working mothers had to reduce their hours or leave their jobs to take on homemaking while men continued to work.
Researchers examined these new relationship dynamics and found that, although both men and women were actively employed, women took on the greatest number of domestic responsibilities during the pandemic.
Working mothers reduced their working hours or left their careers to take on the role of homemaker, while their male partners continued to work.
This phenomenon, where women take on a greater share of domestic responsibilities due to gender stereotypes, is known as the gendered division of labour.
Questions remain as to how and why the majority of domestic labour continues to fall on women, and what factors may be contributing to this type of gender inequality.
Advancing Women's Leadership Through the Lieutenant Governorship
Our excellent allies from the Barbara Lee Family Foundation recently released a report on women lieutenant governors called Second in Command, where they dive into what voters think of the lieutenant governor, along with tips for candidates:
Today, more women are serving in elected offices than ever before— and one office is closer to gender parity than the rest: the lieutenant governorship. Nearly 49 percent of lieutenant governors in the United States are women.
In states across our nation, lieutenant governors hold power in both the executive and legislative branches. These integral, influential leaders partner with governors to set the state policy agenda and oversee initiatives to boost state economies, expand educational opportunities, promote public health and well-being, respond to any number of crises, and more...
While women hold nearly half of elected lieutenant governorships, fewer than 1 in 5 governors are women.
The research is clear: Voters believe women candidates are qualified to serve as lieutenant governors. Once elected, voters want lieutenant governors to demonstrate levelheaded leadership and advocate for their communities—and they want governors to treat their lieutenants as true partners and for the lt. governor to get things done. SECOND IN COMMAND proves voters believe that those who serve as lieutenant governor are well prepared for the next step.
Global Lessons: Proportional Voting Systems and Women’s Representation
Source: The Guardian
The United States is currently ranked 72nd globally for gender balance in politics. What are all of those countries ranked ahead of us doing differently?! We know one thing is for sure -- they aren't out-performing us because they have more or better women running. It's because they have better systems.
RepresentWomen's Outreach Manager Alissa Bombardier-Shaw and Research Associate Steph Scagila published a fantastic piece in Democracy SOS this week - Global Lessons: Proportional Voting Systems and Women's Representation. They report:
RepresentWomen’s research shows that one of the biggest determinants of who wins elections is the electoral system. These systems dictate how ballots are counted, who is on the ballot, how voters strategize, and the amount of power voters have. The same ballots cast in different electoral systems – plurality at-large vs winner-take-all districts vs ranked choice voting vs proportional representation – can yield completely different results, in terms of who gets elected.
RepresentWomen tracks and analyzes women’s representation both in the United States and around the world to build evidence regarding the best practices for gender balance in politics. On International Women’s Day (March 8th), we released our International Voting Systems Memo: “Voting Systems and Women’s Representation: Lessons from Around the World and the Case for Proportional Ranked Choice Voting in the United States." That report takes a deeper look into the link between electoral systems and the representation of women in elected office...
The most impactful takeaways from our International Voting Systems Memo are:
- Women are better represented in countries with proportional voting. Of 193 countries, 84 have proportional representation. On average, women hold on average 31% of all parliamentary seats in countries with proportional representation. Some countries are much higher than that, including New Zealand where women hold 50% of the seats, Costa Rica with 47%, Sweden, Norway and Finland with 46%, Belgium, Spain and Switzerland with 42%, Netherlands and Austria with 40%, Chile with 36% and more. On average, women hold 25% of seats in parliaments worldwide.
- Not only that, women are also least represented in countries with plurality-majority systems– the system used in the United States. Compared to the 25% global average, women hold only 19% of seats in parliament in countries with plurality-majority systems.
Additionally, pairing any kind of voting system with gender quotas in party nominations yields even better levels of representation for women in Parliament.
- Most countries ranked above the U.S. have some form of gender quotas. Of the 73 countries that are either tied with or rank above the U.S. for gender balance in politics, 81% have some form of gender quota in their party nominations.
- Women are best represented in countries that combine PR with gender quotas. Of 193 countries, 72 have both proportional representation and gender quotas– usually set at around 30%. In these countries, women hold on average 32% of parliamentary seats, with many nations much higher (see the chart below). By contrast, of the 43 countries with plurality-majority systems and no gender quotas for party nominations, including the United States, women hold just 17% of parliamentary seats.
Visiting San Francisco This Week
I met up with Emerge America founder Andrea Dew Steele and Lan Nguyen of FairVote in San Francisco! It was so wonderful to talk about bold and innovative strategies to build women’s political power.
It was also lovely to see Ignite founder Anne Moses.
My husband, Rob Richie, and I with MoveOn founder Joan Blades.
Here are some fantastic views from our hike.
That's all for this week. Enjoy your weekend!
Cynthia Richie Terrell
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